Performing the mitzvah of bikur cholim—visiting the sick—helps bring comfort and caring into a patient's life.
The Jewish Chaplaincy's volunteers are part of the Spiritual Care Service Volunteer Program, a national model for hospital spiritual care volunteers, which includes over 200 volunteers from all faith backgrounds.
Jewish spiritual care volunteers join with Jewish chaplains to provide comfort, companionship and guidance to patients and families who come to Stanford Health Care from throughout the Bay Area, across the United States and from Israel and around the world.
Becoming a Spiritual Care Volunteer
Jewish spiritual care volunteers range in age from their 20s to their 80s. Many, but not all, are members of area synagogues across the religious spectrum.
Being a spiritual care volunteer provides an opportunity to meet interesting people at important moments in their lives, and to perform the mitzvah of bikur cholim—visiting the sick. Patients and volunteers often describe moments that are heartfelt or deeply meaningful, as well as profound, gratifying, sacred or holy. Being a spiritual care volunteer is an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth.
Spiritual care volunteers visit patients and families at the bedside in Stanford Hospital. They offer comfort and reassurance, provide a listening ear, express concern and encouragement and offer prayers and blessings when appropriate. Volunteers help patients and families overcome loneliness and find hope. And they can provide a connection to Jewish tradition and to the larger Jewish community.
Volunteers make a year-long commitment to visit patients two hours a week (or at least several times a month). Scheduling is flexible.
Spiritual care volunteers are individuals who are drawn to provide comfort, are good listeners, and are able to meet and connect with people of all ages from a wide range of different backgrounds—religious and non-religious, American born and émigrés. Knowledge about Judaism or involvement in the Jewish community is helpful but not required. However, openness to learning and an interest in and acceptance of people of widely different backgrounds and religious orientations is essential. Proficiency in Hebrew, Spanish, French, Farsi or Arabic is a plus.
Spiritual Care Training usually begins in the late winter; by summer, volunteers visit patients independently. Ongoing training and support for all volunteers takes place during Chaplaincy Chats held at the homes of volunteers.